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Doona Bae (born October 11, 1979) is a South Korean actress and photographer. She is best known outside Korea for her roles as the protagonist's political activist girlfriend Cha Young-mi in Park Chan-wook's Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance (2002) and as archer Park Nam-ju in Bong Joon-ho's The Host (2006). She also had a starring role as Sonmi~451 in Hollywood film Cloud Atlas (2012), directed by The Wachowskis and Tom Tykwer.

Life and career

Bae Doo-na was born in Seoul, South Korea. Growing up, Bae would follow her mother, Kim Hwa-young, a famous stage actress in Korea, around the theater and rehearsal halls, learning the lines of dialogue as she went along. This did not initially lead Bae towards acting, saying: "People might say that since my mother is a theater actor, I became an actress. But to me, those experiences probably had the opposite effect. On the contrary, because I saw many great actors working with my mother, I thought this was a job only people with extraordinary talent could do."

A Hanyang University student in 1998, Bae was scouted by a model talent agency while walking in Seoul. This led to modeling clothing for COOLDOG's catalog, amongst others. In 1999 she made the switch to acting, debuting in the TV drama School. Later the same year, she appeared as the ghost in The Ring Virus, a Korean remake of the Japanese horror film Ring.

In 2000, director Bong Joon-ho cast her as Hyeon-nam in the film Barking Dogs Never Bite for her willingness to do the part without makeup, something other South Korean actresses were unwilling to do. In Kim So-young's documentary Women's History Trilogy (2000–2004), Bae notes her admiration for veteran South Korean actress Yoon Jeong-hee. Yoon returns the compliment saying "Bae Doo-na owns her world." In this same documentary, Bae shares how her own most memorable scene is being chased by the homeless man throughout the apartment in Barking Dogs Never Bite. That same year she gave a risque performance (albeit with a body double for the more intense scenes) in Plum Blossom, and slowly started getting more work on television.

She followed this with two more critical successes, 2001's Take Care of My Cat, directed by Jeong Jae-eun, and 2002's Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance, directed by Park Chan-wook.

2003 was less kind to Bae, as she saw both Tube and Spring Bears Love flop at the box office. After completing principal photography on Spring Bears Love, Bae decided to take time off from film, saying: "I never lived even once without having anything to do. The moment a film was presented to the press, I was almost always already shooting the next one ... I thought by myself: now my first cycle is really over. While I rest a little, I wanted to make a fresh new start."

During her hiatus from the big screen, Bae took up photography, much of which can be seen between her official blog and her published photo books. She also continued to work on TV, starring in Country Princess and Rosemary. Bae finally stepped onto a theater stage in 2004, for a production of Sunday Seoul (not to be confused with the South Korean movie of the same title), a play co-written by Park Chan-wook.

In 2005 Bae gave a memorable turn as an exchange student who joins a band in the Japanese film Linda Linda Linda, then played a divorced woman in the experimental omnibus TV series Beating Heart.

She reunited with Bong Joon-ho in 2006's The Host, which became the highest grossing film in South Korean box office history. For her role, she trained in archery for months that she was told if she really wanted, she had enough talent to make it at an amateur level. She then returned to television, through the series Someday and How to Meet a Perfect Neighbor.

After winning accolades for 2010's Air Doll, a film by Japanese director Hirokazu Koreeda about an inflatable sex doll that develops a soul and falls in love, Bae made back-to-back TV series, playing a high school teacher in Master of Study, and a night club singer in weekend drama Gloria.

Her 2012 sports film As One was based on the true story of the world table tennis championship held in Chiba, Japan in 1991 where North Korean player Li Bun-hui and South Korean player Hyun Jung-hwa overcame their difficulties and came together to defeat the unbeatable Chinese team. Bae and co-star Ha Ji-won were trained by Hyun herself, and Bae learned to play left-handed like Li. Afterwards she made a brief appearance in the science fiction film Doomsday Book.

Bae made her Hollywood debut in Cloud Atlas, as Sonmi~451, a clone in dystopian Korea. She also played the minor roles of Tilda Ewing, the daughter of a slave-holder and wife of an abolitionist in pre-Civil War America, and a Mexican woman who kills an assassin who attempted to kill two whistleblowers. Co-directed by The Wachowskis and Tom Tykwer, the $100 million adaptation of David Mitchell's novel premiered at the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival to divisive reviews, though Bae's performance was unanimously praised by critics.

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